Monthly Archives: April 2015

Student/ Teacher Conference ideas

Yesterday one of my students and I had some Teacher/Student conference time. We had just gotten testing results back and needed to discuss and evaluate.

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The “little fox” needed some building up as well as ideas for continuing to learn throughout the rest of the school year and summer. While investigating a new Mexican taco place, where we received very personal service, we discussed our options.

A few ideas that we came up with:

-Two lessons of math daily

-Reading a book outside his comfort zone. He settled on a a mystery, which we chose three to try.

Journey to Freedom by Gilbert Morris 

Wild Rescue by Chris Fabry (Red Rock Mysteries #4)

My life as a Cowboy Cowpie by Bill Myers

– Practicing typing  everyday

This of course is just some extra stuff we are adding, but we are looking for more active ways to continue learning throughout the summer as well.

What are some ideas that help foster learning throughout breaks?

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Taken by Dee Henderson

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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Book Description: 

Abducted at the age of sixteen and coerced into assisting the Jacoby crime family, Shannon Bliss has finally found a way out. She desperately wants to resume some semblance of normal life, but she also knows she has some unfinished business to attend to. She has enough evidence to put her captors behind bars for a very long time.

When Shannon contacts private investigator and former cop Matthew Dane to help her navigate her reentry into society, she quickly discovers that gaining her freedom doesn’t mean her troubles are over. For one thing, her brother is the leading candidate in the race for Illinois governor, and news of her escape will create a media frenzy. For another, the ransom her family reportedly paid years earlier appears to have been a scam; no one knows what happened to the money. And then there’s the fact that Shannon’s escape involved faking her own death. If the Jacoby family learns she is still alive, they’ll stop at nothing to silence her.

If justice is to be done, and if Shannon’s life is ever to get on track again, Matthew will need to discover exactly what happened to her–even if it means stirring up a hornet’s nest of secrets.

My Review:

I rated this book with 4 stars, even though there were some things that were not my favorite about it, as it captured my interest immediately and kept it until the end of the book. That has been hit or miss lately, so this was a huge plus!

The storyline on this book is not so much a suspense book as the unraveling of a mystery behind a missing girl. I loved the way it was done. She is a strong woman that while having suffered, is strong and capable, while still weak.

I loved how the author wove that through the storyline as often they are portrayed as either/or, while victims are generally more survivors instead of victims as we often see them.

It was because of the depth of that storyline this book receives 4 stars. It had some other flaws of which you will discover as you read, which I struggled with a bit, but it also showed the humanity.

This book was given to me for review by the publisher and NetGalley

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A Hearts Danger by Colleen Coble

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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Book Description

On the brink of war with the Sioux, a young woman risks everything to expose the betrayal threatening the man she loves.

Christmas is coming, and the air at Fort Laramie has turned cold . . . but relations with the Sioux have turned colder. As tensions between soldiers and natives approach a tipping point, Ben Croftner and Jessica DuBois prepare a trap for Rand Campbell.

Bitter from rejection and backfired plans, Croftner has enlisted the help of Rand’s new fiancée to keep Rand from ever returning to Sarah Montgomery . . . for whom his heart clearly still yearns.

Sarah is simply trying to move on with her life at Fort Laramie, but doing so under the watchful eyes of both Campbell-the man whose love she craves-and Croftner-the man whose lies have cost her everything.

Will Rand fall victim to the conspiracy and go through with his wedding? Or will he declare his love for Sarah and make good on the promises that brought her into the rugged western territories?

About the Author

USA Today bestselling author Colleen Coble has written several romantic suspense novels including Tidewater Inn, Rosemary Cottage, and the Mercy Falls, Lonestar, and Rock Harbor series. Visit her website at http://www.colleencoble.com Twitter: @colleencoble Facebook: colleencoblebooks

 

My Review:

I was somewhat disappointed in that this book was not a full length novel, but a shorter length novel. The style of writing is reflective of a different style of writing from a different writing time. I enjoyed the quickness of the story, but so many bad things happened in very rapid succession in this story. It seemed a bit forced for me. However, there was a “happily ever after” conclusion which gave me an “Awww” moment. It felt more like a good teen read, with a slight hint of some topics to discuss such as the racist attitudes at that time period towards Native Americans.

This book was provided for me by BookLookBloggers. The opinions contained herein are my own.

I review for BookLook Bloggers

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The Captive Imposter by Dawn Crandall

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Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

Book Description: (Taken from Amazon)

The Everstone Chronicles Series Book 3 of 3

For her own protection following the murder of her brother Will, hotel heiress Estella Everstone assumes the alias of Elle Stoneburner and takes a job as companion to an elderly widow. Never did she imagine that her position would lead her back to her beloved Everston, a picturesque resort property tucked away in the rugged mountains of Maine. Living below her station in a guise of anonymity has its struggles, but her spirits are buoyed by a newfound friendship with the hotel manager, Dexter Blakeley. And his distaste for the spoiled socialites who frequent his hotel causes her to take a close look at her own priorities and past lifestyle. When Estella finds herself in need of help, Dexter comes to the rescue with an offer of employment she can’t refuse. As the two interact and open up to each other, Estella feels a growing attraction to Dexter; and increasing discomfort over concealing her identity. Yet, in spite of the false pretense she’s putting forth, she’s never felt freer to be herself than in his presence. But will he still love her when he learns the truth about who she is?

My Review:

I thoroughly enjoyed books one and two of the Everstone Chronicles! This one was no different. Dawn’s unique writing style will draw you in and keep you up at night! That is how it was for me. I had very limited time for reading, yet was up until all hours of the night, as I wanted to continue to experience this story.

Dawn captures the balance between a flawed character and dwelling on the unseemly parts of the story. Throughout the book, I wanted them to choose a different path. But as book characters often do, they did not take my advice!

Dexter and Estella both have flaws. This endeared them to my heart. The balance was struck in the forgiveness and the heart for the Lord that you can feel in the story. I loved how she incorporated the true feel of Christian fiction without any preaching.

I felt that the easy flowing style of Dawn’s writing, painted a picture that will stay. I feel as if the Everstone family were my friends. I highly recommend this series! If you are looking for something beyond the normal romantic fiction read, look no further. The first book in the series is on special this week.

Beyond that, even if you are not generally an eReader, make an exception for this series; you will not be sorry!

This book was provided for me for review by the author. The opinions contained herein are my own.

The Captive Imposter Sandra Byrd endorsed

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Good Literature?

What defines good Literature?

The definition for each person varies somewhat as, we have to face our own humanity. We all vary in our likes and dislikes. There is a term that floats around in homeschool circles. Twaddle. The definition of it varies based on, you guessed it, humanity.

So, what makes a good read? What is worth reading?

The four E’s are some determining factors.

Enjoyment.

Education.

Entertainment.

Edification

But what takes a book from this….

IMG_0108 Sweet Rolls with oozy, gooey frosting to

P1070535 Whole wheat bread dough stuffed with meat and cabbage?

Is the one wrong to eat? If that was your diet constantly, it would not be healthy. If the second was your diet constantly, it even would not be that healthy.

Even a diet full of bitter greens constantly would be lacking. We need a balance in our lives. Stories are what often define us. Even people that are not readers, allow story to dominate their lives. Just think of the last movie you saw, or TV show? Or even the things you are passionate about. If you cannot think of of a story and how it effected you, you need to search deep within and see if you are too self focused. However, I digress.

Good literature is a story that defines you. This means it often needs to have some sort of depth to it. A light, fluffy story can give you some depth in helping you live outside of a hard circumstance at times. There are times when that is needed. A romantic story can give someone hope for love, but a dirty romance story can often inspire thoughts of lust.

There are times when I have seen a set of books recommended as “good literature”. Sometimes I think instead of the four “E’s”, other words come to mind.

Boring.

Blah.

Choppy.

Lacked imagination.

I was surprised in a recent conversation when a reader referred to a book as “silly”.  She said something that made me think a bit. “If you took out such and such (the main premise of the story), you would have an empty book with just silliness.”

While this may have made perfect sense to her, it left me pondering. “If we took out the main premise of most books, what would we be left with?” Of course they would seem a bit silly, they would be lacking any substance. I get that tastes vary, and in this case, she could not identify with the main premise of the book. That is totally and completely okay. But she shared her opinion with other readers, bashing the book by calling it “silly”. This causes other readers to feel that they are somewhat ridiculous if they happened to enjoy it. They are now “readers of twaddle” in this person’s mind.

Do you see where I am going here?

Another person can pick up a book and experience the four “E’s” or even just two of them. Another reader picks up the same book and experiences other emotions. Does that mean the book is classified as “twaddle”, “Empty literature” or something else?”

Often it simply means that book was not for that reader. It did not meet their needs at that time.

When we are reviewing books, searching out books for our children, the search for high quality literature is intense. However, we must take into consideration that all readers are not created the same. All movie viewers are not created the same. Yes, there are some movies and books that are just kale mixed with manure. While we love kale, we are not interested in trying to get rid of the manure to eat it. It just is not healthy.

But, sometimes what seems like manure for you, can be fertilizer for another person. We are not all created equal. We have different life experiences that define each of our lives.

Our review of a piece of literature means something, more than ever now. Authors are always seeking how to be better in the marketplace of literature. Each new movie tries to do better, with more special effects. When we lightly throw out a review, we often do not realize how it can effect someone. For us, it is just a book we read. Often, for an author, it is their child. If we plan on dismissing their child, we need to make sure we speak clearly, with reasonable comments.

If we are judging another mother for allowing her child to read Geronimo Stilton, and dismiss it as twaddle, we may not know the reason why she allows them to read those books. Our hearts need to remember that not everything that is manure for us, is for everyone. There are times that manure can be fertilizer to grow a long term reader!

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An Uncertain Choice by Jody Hedlund

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Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

Book Description

The first book in a new YA historical fiction series from bestselling author Jody Hedlund.

Due to her parents’ promise at her birth, Lady Rosemarie has been prepared to become a nun on the day she turns eighteen. Then, a month before her birthday, a friend of her father’s enters the kingdom and proclaims her parents’ will left a second choice-if Rosemarie can marry before the eve of her eighteenth year, she will be exempt from the ancient vow.

Before long, Rosemarie is presented with the three most handsome and brave knights in the land. But when the competition for her heart seemingly results in a knight playing foul, she begins to wonder if the cloister is the best place after all. If only one of the knights-the one who appears the most guilty-had not already captured her heart.

My Review:

Medieval knights. Ancient torture. A lovely Maiden. What do all of these have in common? This young Adult read by Jody Hedlund claims ownership to all three.

Jody Hedlund has been known for historical adult romance. Her debut into young adult fiction has many positives going for it. Lady Rosemarie is determined to put an end to the Medieval tortures so common during this time period. This fact causes the story to be sprinkled with the brutal facts throughout, which may be a bit much for the younger teen reader. The book is written in first person, which can be off putting to some readers. Ms. Hedlund does with skill, weave a story, that takes place over only the course of one month.

I liked how history of the time period was expertly given throughout. It would be a book that you could have a high school student read for pleasure reading while studying this time period and it would appeal to both young men and women. While there is romance, it is done more according to the correct time period tradition. Women were forced to choose a husband for convenience often in that time, as Lady Rosemarie finds herself ordered to do in the beginning of this story.

While for me, the first person style of writing was a little less enjoyable, I am excited to see more fiction written during this time period. I plan on adding this book to a list of books to be used in my My Father’s World Rome to Reformation series. Readers will find that it is something that will bring discussion after reading it.

I was given this book for review from BookLook Bloggers. The opinions contained herein are my own.

I review for BookLook Bloggers

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The Pharaoh’s Daughter By Mesu Andrews

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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Book Synopsis: (From publisher website)

“Fear is the most fertile ground for faith.”

“You will be called Anippe, daughter of the Nile. Do you like it?” Without waiting for a reply, she pulls me into her squishy, round tummy for a hug.
I’m trying not to cry. Pharaoh’s daughters don’t cry.
When we make our way down the tiled hall, I try to stop at ummi Kiya’s chamber. I know her spirit has flown yet I long for one more moment. Amenia pushes me past so I keep walking and don’t look back.
Like the waters of the Nile, I will flow.

Anippe has grown up in the shadows of Egypt’s good god Pharaoh, aware that Anubis, god of the afterlife, may take her or her siblings at any moment.  When she finds a baby floating in a basket on the great river, Anippe believes Egypt’s gods have answered her pleas, entrenching her more deeply in deception and placing her and her son Mehy, whom handmaiden Miriam calls Moses, in mortal danger.
As bloodshed and savage politics shift the balance of power in Egypt, the gods reveal their fickle natures and Anippe wonders if her son, a boy of Hebrew blood, could one day become king. Or does the god of her Hebrew servants, the one they call El Shaddai, have a different plan—for them all?

My Review:

“Fear is the most fertile ground for faith”. This interesting statement that this author makes in this book sets the stage for a unique biblical fiction. It is not actually focused on a biblical character though. This book is about the woman that drew Moses from the Nile and really focuses on her life.

Since much can be learned from history, I was amazed at what I learned from this book. The Egyptian lifestyle was somewhat brutal and this book does go into some detail about some of the brutality. It is not graphic in the sense of reality, but I would not recommend it for young teens or those that are sheltered.

When I set this book down, it was one that you did not want to pick up another one for awhile. My mind was spinning with the beauty of the story. Yet another story about a strong woman that God used to save His people that was a Gentile. It spoke to me about how strong women were praised by God.

I loved how the word pictures were created in this book without glorifying evil or magnifying it. It spared nothing as far as description, yet gave you room to create your own visions of the historical setting.

I highly recommend!

This book was provided by Blogging for Books and the publisher. The opinions contained herein are my own.

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The Crimson Cord by Jill E. Smith

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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Book description (From author’s website): 

Wife to a gambler who took one too many risks, Rahab finds herself sold as a slave to cover her husband’s debt. Forced into prostitution by Dabir, counselor to the Syrian king, Rahab despairs of ever regaining her freedom and her self-respect. But when Israelite spies enter Jericho and come to lodge at her house, Rahab sees a glimmer of hope and the opportunity of a lifetime.

In one risky moment, she takes a leap of faith, puts her trust in a God she does not know, and vows to protect the spies from the authorities. When the armies of Israel arrive weeks later, Rahab hopes they will keep their promise, but she has no idea what kind of challenges await her outside Jericho’s walls–or if she will ever know the meaning of love.

My Review:

Portrayed as a wife of a gambler, whom took too many risks, I believe women from now will relate to this story of Rahab. We do not have the same laws that allow us to buy and sell one another as they did in those times. However, I see women in similar situations that feel as if they were bought or sold into a lifestyle.

Biblical fiction can be tough to write well. Jill Smith hits the mark in this story of Rahab. I felt as if I was living and walking alongside her. I could understand her desperation and lack of choice regarding her lifestyle. You will have deeper insight into the history that goes along with the bible story. This book is one that will make you want to re-read her story in the bible and exclaim over it.

I believe it is one of the best stories or retellings that I have ever read about Rahab, Joshua, “the spies” and Jericho.

This book does speak of abuse at the hands of the people that imprisoned her, wicked acts that the people of Jericho participated in, as well as what happened to Achan in detail. It would not be a book for younger teens, but could be a good biblical discussion book for older teens.

This book was provided for me for review by NetGalley. The opinions contained herein are my own.

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Bridge of Faith by Catherine West

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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From Back Cover:

Two lives taken down different roads – one enduring love – one shot at starting over.
If only they believed in second chances.

Julia Connelly is finally free from twelve long years in an abusive relationship. Now able to live the life she’s longed for, Julia takes her two children back home to Vermont, hoping for peace and healing. The last person she expects to see is the man she eloped with at eighteen—who then abandoned her two months into their marriage, with little explanation.

When an assignment in the Middle East ends in tragedy, popular news correspondent, Reid Wallace, returns to his hometown seeking answers and peace of mind.

Confronting his past was not in the plan.

My Review:

I am always looking for books that deal with real life topics, but are not cliche. This book hit the spot for me on that. The characters are real feeling, they are not perfect. The topics that this book deals with spousal abuse, alcoholism, PTSD, as well as touching on corruption in the media. They were covered in a way where you did not feel like you were give too much detail to make it graphic, but enough to envision the picture.
I didn’t want to put the book down. I almost missed a meeting I had to go to as I took a break from housecleaning to start it and didn’t notice the time.
Forgiveness and healing are the themes of this book. Ms. West shows how faith can bring forgiveness, even when it was not asked for, in really tough situations. She demonstrates the rebuilding of relationships when it is not easy as well. I loved how it didn’t happen fast, but she managed (which is a talent), to spread it out over a decent time period, without making the book drag at all. I really enjoyed this book and will be looking for more by this author.

Amazon Link to buy-

It is only $3.99 on Kindle right now! Bridge of Faith

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A Stranger’s Secret by Laurie Eakes

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

A Stranger's Secret by Laurie Eakes

A Stranger’s Secret by Laurie Eakes

About the Book: (From publisher site)

As a grieving widow, Morwenna only wants to make a life for herself and her young son at her murdered husband’s estate. Until an unconscious man washes up on her shore, entangling her in a web of mysteries that threatens everything she holds dear.

Still grieving the loss of her husband, Morwenna Penvenan fills her days preserving her son’s heritage: the dilapidated estate his father left them. But all attempts at restoration are thwarted when she is accused of deliberately causing ships to crash on her shore in order to steal their cargo. While seeking clues to the true culprits, she finds an unconscious man wearing a medallion with the Penvenan crest enameled upon it.

Upon learning of his father’s death, David pursues answers to the many questions left in his father’s wake: Why was his father in Cornwall when he said he would be in Scotland? Why did he die in possession of a medallion belonging to a prominent Cornwall family? Why did his father take money from the family’s ship-building business? And why did someone kill him? Only after waking up at the Penvenan estate under Morwenna’s care do the pieces start falling together.

My Review:

Located on a beach, I found the story seemed to be haunted with ghosts of the past to begin with. Morwenna, devoted to her child, still allows pride to keep her from accepting her grandparents offers of help.  There is a slight mystery in this story, but it is mostly a battle between the inner self of Morwenna mostly. Romance does come into the picture, but mostly the story I enjoyed was Morwenna seeking to forgive herself, her dead husband and even her parents. If I was to say what the theme of the story was, I would say that it was forgiveness in the face of wrongdoing.

If you are looking for a book with a slightly brooding romantic heroine, this will be one you will want to pick up.

This book was given to me for review by NetGalley and the publisher. The opinions contained herein are my own.

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